Helmet camera films Juneau man's drowning in Mendenhall Lake

A Juneau man inadvertently filmed his own drowning on Mendenhall Lake with a GoPro camera mounted on his helmet, but authorities who recovered the camera have not yet found his body, officials said July 18.

Alaska State Troopers said teams would continue to search the lake for the body of Paul Rodriguez Jr., 43. Troopers said a helmet with a camera attached to it that was confirmed to have belonged to Rodriguez was recording on July 11 when his kayak overturned and he went into the water.

“The recording continued showing that the kayak overturned due to a strong current coming from the glacier,” Troopers spokesperson Tim DeSpain said by email.

DeSpain said the helmet was found on the lakeshore. He said it was turned in to troopers on July 17.

Juneau police said Rodriguez was believed to have gone missing on July 11 somewhere in the vicinity of the Mendenhall Glacier Recreation Area. Police received a report July 16 from U.S. Forest Service employees that a vehicle had been parked at the recreation area since July 11 and determined it was registered to Rodriguez.

Rodriguez’s son, Jaden Rodriguez, said his father was kindhearted and enjoyed being outdoors, doing activities like fishing, paddleboarding and snowboarding. Rodriguez also was a gifted photographer, his son said.

He said Rodriguez’s life changed for the better when he found God, and Rodriguez would often tell him that life is short.

“He was a good person,” he said.

According to police, Rodriguez's roommate reported last seeing him on July 10, and friends said a social media post by Rodriguez on July 11 showed a kayak on a beach that appeared to be near Nugget Falls, which is in the recreation area and along the lake.

A kayak had been found floating unattended on the lake July 11 that police said resembled the one in Rodriguez's post. As authorities put the pieces together, a search got underway.

 

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